In the latest attempt by Russia to offer an olive branch to the US, on Sunday Russian President Vladimir Putin told his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in a New Year letter that Moscow was ready for dialogue on "the most extensive agenda”, the Kremlin said following a series of failed attempts to hold a new summit, most recently in November, when Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, citing tensions about Russian forces opening fire on Ukrainian navy boats and then seizing them.
Trump and Putin also failed to hold a full-fledged meeting in Paris on the sidelines of the centenary commemoration of the Armistice. The two leaders held their one and only summit in Helsinki in July.
An official statement by the Kremlin said that "Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia-US relations are the most important factor behind ensuring strategic stability and international security, and reaffirmed that Russia is open to dialogue with the United States on the most extensive agenda."
Moscow also said one of the key issues it wanted to discuss with the United States is Washington’s plans to withdraw from a Cold War era nuclear arms pact.
In a separate letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Putin pledged continuation of aid to the Syrian government and people in the “fight against terrorism, in defense of state sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Putin also sent New Year greetings to other world leaders including prime ministers Theresa May of Britain, wishing “well-being and prosperity to the British people”, the Kremlin said in a year that saw a dramatic deterioration in relations between the two nations; according to Reuters, Russia’s embassy in London said on Friday that Moscow and London had agreed to return some staff to their respective embassies after they expelled dozens of diplomats early this year. Diplomatic relations ground to a halt after Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats over accusations the Kremlin was behind a nerve toxin attack in March on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.
The Russian president also sent his a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying “The relations of comprehensive trust-based partnership and strategic interaction between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China have reached an unprecedented level."
Putin sent similar letter to numerous other heads of state including to President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, in which he stated that "Russian-French relations have great potential, which was confirmed by our recent meetings and talks,” the Russian President said in his message. “I count on our continued joint work to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries in various spheres, as well as to resolve important issues on the regional and global agenda.”
In his message to Federal President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, the President of Russia noted the significant experience of cooperation between the two countries in various spheres and expressed hope for continued joint work on the bilateral and international agendas next year, in particular, the successful implementation of major joint projects in the economy, culture, science and education. Vladimir Putin stressed that Russian-German cooperation is of great importance not only for the peoples of the two countries, but for the rest of Europe as well.
Among the many other similar letters sent out by Putin, he also addressed one to Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, and to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, thanking him for his assistance in preparing and hosting the World Cup in Russia.